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Published July 31st 2012

Does Any Publicity Really Mean Good Publicity?

GO COMPARE! GO COMPAAAAAAAAAAARE, where people go, to save some … SHUT UP. Just shut the hell up. That’s what we’ve all been screaming at our TV screens for years. Why won’t that annoying bloke just tie a rope round his neck and get it over with? It’s hard even to talk about it without resorting to expletives.

Anyway, it’s the advert that put the comparison site in the public eye, and it certainly helped establish the brand as a household name.

The company’s most recent commercials however, have taken note of the fact that their campaign frontman irritates the nation.

In a remarkably self-referential move, Go Compare have launched a new marketing drive that features faux desecrations of their billboards and a TV spot that sees the famous Gio Compario shot with a bazooka by former tennis star Sue Barker.

Here are a couple of their outdoor ads that have been seen out and about this July:

They’ve also taken to YouTube to broadcast their latest TV commercial, and have clocked up over 80,000 views in just 3 weeks, eclipsing some of their earlier, less self-critical adverts from two years ago.

It appears to us to be something akin to the infamous 1986 New Coke campaign, in which Coca Cola radically altered their recipe, only to hear millions of complaints, before finally re-releasing ‘classic Coke’ to unprecedented demand.

Go Compare have managed to get the public in such an infuriated and irritated state with their supremely annoying ads, that simply sabotaging their own campaign has been enough to please the masses.

The company has even been audacious enough to promote the hashtag #savingthenation in conjunction with the marketing. But what has been the real impact of the campaign?

We used our social media monitoring tool to have a look at the effect the campaign is having upon the brand’s visibility:

The hashtag #savingthenation doesn’t appear to have been used at all before the launch of the campaign, which has enjoyed moderate popularity throughout July.

There are however, more negative tweets than positive ones, with 10% of all tweets using the hashtag being negative in sentiment.

This graph shows how the campaign has affected the Go Compare brand in general:.

There has been a dramatic uplift in mentions of the Go Compare brand, coinciding with the launch of the marketing campaign, beginning around the end of June.

Shifting from a lowly average of around 250 mentions of the brand name to a whopping 8000+ a day, the adverts at least got people talking.

Unfortunately for Go Compare, 26% of those mentions were negative, less than half of that being positive – 12% – and the remaining 62% being generally neutral.

This is where the company need to decide whether the 70,000+ mentions they’ve received during this bout of marketing have been worth it, especially if 18,000 of them have been bad for their brand.

A closer inspection of the data reveals that mentions of Go Compare before the campaign was launched were actually already 32% negative. Equipped with this knowledge, the 26% negative and a giant surge in visibility doesn’t sound so bad.

So even though Go Compare’s advertising-led boost in public discussion of the brand may have been sullied by a significant minority of negative tweets and posts, taking a broader look at the data shows that in this case at least, ‘any publicity is good publicity’ – or rather, seemingly-bad publicity can actually be for the good.

Go Compare have saved us from themselves, and in the process managed to boost publicity and cut the percentage of negative mentions about their brand. It would be fascinating to know whether they’ve had an increase in traffic or even better, sales.

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